Arms when dancing gah :)

Discussion in 'Just Dance' started by smiling28, Dec 1, 2008.

  1. smiling28

    smiling28 Moderator


    I find this a complex subject.

    It REALLY affects how you look when dancing. (eg. lets focus on arms for basic step).

    I understand the theory of contra body movement thus shoulders go forwards and arms go back etc. (in theory but cannot do it).

    My arms look silly. Any hints :) :) :)

  2. dark99

    dark99 Changui

    Hmmm, try practicing fwd only first, then backward only, then both... do this very slowly and build up speed...
  3. Jag75

    Jag75 Shine Officer

    Oliver Pineda's Body Movement DVD is absolutely the best thing I've ever done for my salsa.

    When you watch it you MUST pay attention to everything he tells you - it's a bit of a laborious process to make it through but every part of it is vital.

    Once you understand the exercises (including proper basic step technique) you need to practise them several times a week (I practise every day) to really start seeing positive results. Initially it all feels wierd and counter-intuitive but once you start getting used to it you'll be amazed at how much better dancing will feel and people WILL notice the improvement.

    You need to walk before you can run - don't get frustrated if you don't get it right away - I'm still not exactly where I want to be but am probably about 90% of the way there, and I've been doing the isolations/upper-lower body movement + basic step combining upper and lower body movement and I've been working on it for a good 6 months!

    Hope this helps...
  4. smiling28

    smiling28 Moderator

    thanks, appreciate the effort but I have that DVD and no help for me. He focuses on shoulders yes, rib cage yes but really leaves arms out. There are SOOOO many things you can do with your arms, I would like a great explanation about arms and I will be very impressed :)
  5. MacMoto

    MacMoto Administrator Staff Member

    I always thought the shoulders rolled back not forward...
  6. MacMoto

    MacMoto Administrator Staff Member

    On the first day of the survival challenge at last year's NY congress, Shani worked on our arms. I basically do what she taught.

    She explained the basic arm motion to be a side-to-side swing to the side of the foot you are stepping on (she taught on2 ladies timing so the swing was to right-left-right, left-right-left). Both arms swing together in the same direction. She demonstrated this by making us form a baby cradle with our arms. Once we got the side-to-side motion, she introduced rotation. Instead of simple side-to-side, you move your arm across the chest, go down and back at the navel level (sort of like stroking your tummy). Both arms start high, and come around low, keeping the same side-to-side swing in synch, so you end up stroking your tummy with alternating arms. This basic movement applied to both men and women. Once we got that movement, she showed us how to make it look feminine for women and masculine for men (making it look less like stroking your tummy).

    Not sure if this helps at all without any visual but anyway...

    Another point: although the ribcage movement is important, don't try to emphasise it - it's a bit like beginner women trying to push their hips out you see often... it's not natural and it doesn't look good. Same with shoulders.
  7. SnowDancer

    SnowDancer Clave Commander

    Don't arms follow the ribcage; ie, as your chest moves left, the arms follow to the left, with your right hand pointing towards your left shoulder? And the arms should be relaxed, with most of the motion coming from the ribcage, rather than from the arm muscles. I think I picked this up from the workshops by John & Liz of Salsamania.
  8. lolita

    lolita Capitán Del Estilo

    Do as many patterns that require both arms as possible... Simple, right?
  9. Flujo

    Flujo Sabor Ambassador

    Please excuse the cut in.
    Same here. You look alright though. I wouldn't say you look silly. At lest you've got some meat on you and don't resemble a dancing pipe cleaner who waves his dangly arms about like a lunatic. *chuckles*
    Did you read Amandas comment about having oranges under your armpits?
    That helps.

    My biggest problem has been trying to project the feeling of the music without looking feminine. How do you translate the "love, soft & flow" you get with some songs but stay masculine?

    I started with doing the basic while playing some imaginary shakers in time to the clav (1&2&3&4&5&6&7&8&) . It made my shoulders move in the way that your thinking of. Now I'm trying to use the same shoulder movement while keeping my arms as still as possible to counteract the 'lunatic pipe cleaner' habit. It's going ok so far in the sense that it's better than before but it's still not good. I think that's where a movement class or a private will come in.

    Sweavos shine/solo vid as really helpful as well.

    Are we on the same page here?
  10. smiling28

    smiling28 Moderator

    Thanks. This is a common method taught. (Oliver teaches this similarly as does his school to my understanding). Sort of a brush your shoulder/pec with the opposite arm approach.

    Note: (that Oliver DVD is GREAT overall but not enough scope to cover arms specifically).

    I honestly would love a 3 hour workshop just on arms to begin with.

    The method above is cool but to be honest I do not understand the nuances and it is not natural for me. I want to find something to get IN TOUCH with my arms. To understand how they relate to my body. To feel connected and integrated. I find this extremity (the arms) to be a MASSIVE difference in how 'naturals' look on the dancefloor. Eg. forget salsa. Just go to a club and look at people without training. The most awkward looking thing for people generally is the arms (even asking them). At least in my limited experience.

    Does that make sense?
  11. smiling28

    smiling28 Moderator

    Great recap and thank you. I understand this method as arms connected to body and over hips. I would just love to know why? What other options? What is the history/evolution/purpose of how arms were used in dance/movement.

    Yes, this is fascinating and bamboozling to me lol :)
  12. smiling28

    smiling28 Moderator

    Brilliant suggestions. Many thanks!!!

    Really appreciating everyone's input on this!
  13. Jag75

    Jag75 Shine Officer

    I think what was meant was that when you step you push the shoulder that is on the same side as the foot you're putting the weight on and the arm goes back, whilst the other goes forward (cbm) - the rolling applies from that position until the other shoulder is pointing forward (and the other foot is in the process of being planted). You're right though, the shoulders roll back.
  14. Jag75

    Jag75 Shine Officer

    Sorry smiling now I have a clearer understanding of what you meant and I agree - arms are a tough one!

    I've learned that less is more - once you have the body motion down pat and you're doing things like shines etc it's best to learn to keep your hands near your body, without trying to move them. Eventually you'll be incorporating subtle movements that are harmonious with your body movement. That's what I was taught from Fernando (Suave).

    Free hands should either be on your chest or hip during a lead/follow, but if you do feel like adding styling start by doing it in front of the mirror and seeing what looks good - it'll be hard to come up with something immediately but eventually you'll find yourself looking better and better. Also record yourself doing shines and moving your arms - you'll be amazed how much you can learn from that.

    Ultimately it's all practise. The reason the pros look so good is that they've been dancing for a long time and have seen themselves over and over again. Even then they still wince when they look at themselves ;)
  15. smiling28

    smiling28 Moderator

    Exactly. :)
  16. sweavo

    sweavo Maestro 'Guaguanco' Rodríguez

    Oooh thanks for the namecheck!

    For what it's worth, I don't really know what to do with my arms either, but a few thought come to mind:

    1) Mushi of salsology says set your hands like you are "going for your guns" this is a great image that stuck with me. A small amount of life in the hands and arms, a readiness, and less of the floaty, egg-holding energy of the female hands.

    2) I usually think of an action that I'm describing when I move my arms. They can be fairly concrete actions: smoothing lapels, shooting cuffs, tipping hat; or they can be more abstract: taking, giving, guarding, forbidding.

    3) A bit of orisha dance with help you with (2) since the dances' movements are highly significant: swinging a machete, clearing the crop, spearing, etc. When you've experienced these stylised movements it can open you up to stylising a few things of your own.

    4) You can also use your arms to direct attention. If you throw a hand in a direction and look in that direction, so will the audience. You can have fun putting off your partner with this; or even actually leading her by purely visual hinting.
  17. opm1s6

    opm1s6 Sabor Ambassador

    Ahh Shani...yes if there is one thing she is definitely good at is teaching the break down of the basic and al the movements within it. I highly regard her methods...her and Ismael are far better than anyone I know here in NYC when it comes to teaching the workings of the basic at a high level and reworking the weight transfer, rib cage movement and arms.

    btw they say shoulders should move back, although shoulders are my biggest flaw so I'm not an authority. Personally I just find that they should follow the arms and I think that if you have shoulder movement in a relaxed basic that truly shows what direction they are going as too exaggerated and instead the direction is subtle. More important is that you aren't just focusing on your arms moving and your shoulder still; the entire body needs to be involved.

    My issue is that I have to remove the arm movement in my left arm in partnerwork and less in the basic. I actually think my basic is in pretty good order.

    I actually don't think of it in that order. I usually think of the arms match the timing and smoothness of the basic, with a focus on how they relate to the 3n4 and the 7n8. Once that's established I focus on adding the ribcage. If you think of the hands as they come into (or across, whatever) the body, the rib cage matches that movement. So left hand goes left to right, the rib cage matches. I think that's what you're saying, but that's what feels natural for me.

    EDIT: WOW, I just realized something. A few weeks ago I was noticing how my basic had naturally changed, so that the arm movements, while rhythmically matched, the left arm was "bigger" than the right. It was very strange since it kind of creeped into my basic over a span of a few weeks. I just realized that maybe this happened because of my partnerwork, when my left has more freedom and somehow that translated back into my basic solo. I couldn't understand why it happened at the time and just chalked it up to dominance of a certain side of the brain, but I think I just found the connection...that's kind of awesome and a little scary at the same time.
  18. Flujo

    Flujo Sabor Ambassador

    No probs. It's a good video. The title doesn't do it justice. :)

    Great points! This is funny, and maybe a little embarrassing but I was dancing in my dressing gown (in private, and with clothes on :p) gripping each side swishing it about stylistically and thought. "Hmm, this isn't bad...I wonder if I can emulate this". So now I try to pretend that I'm wearing that same dressing gown while dancing. :cool: It gives me something purposeful to do with my hands/arms. It's like a prop, similar a hankie or like you mentioned, a machete. (Imagine taking one of those out dancing. That'd clear the dancefloor faster than a chachacha...and pobably get you a night in prison too. Hmm, smooth concrete floor = space for shines practice. Hmmm!? Criminal record vs free practice room. Moral dilema!)

    The things we do to improve.


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